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A thread of years (edition 1998)
by John Lukacs
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0300071884, Hardcover)How does one go about depicting the intangible decline of moral codes of behavior? John Lukacs, author of The Hitler of History, explores this issue in A Thread of Years, an impressionist illustration of social history in the 20th century that focuses on the decline of honor and moral behavior in America. Lukacs's narrative falls somewhere between factual, tangible history and well-written romance, with a nod to the latter embodied in the brief fictional vignettes he uses to begin each chapter. The book moves chronologically from 1901 to 1969, presenting along the way a number of characters and scenarios Lukacs considers indicative of their respective eras. His purpose is to show that since 1969, Anglo-American civilization and ideals have fallen dramatically.
Lukacs is careful to back up his points, arguing that the decline of imperialist Britain's influence, the rise of immigration, and the slow erosion of religion, along with an apathetic elite class's refusal to give society more support, have all contributed to the decline of morals over the course of this century. This highly original study is more a romantic romp through the last century than a concise analytical account, yet Lukacs has created a fascinating retrospective portrait of society, one that will have readers pondering the direction of contemporary American morals.
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:34 -0400)
The distinguished historian John Lukacs here presents a series of fictionalized vignettes of daily life as experienced by ordinary individuals (most often in the United States, although Lukacs takes us to some European countries as well), each in a year from 1901 to 1969, and each followed by a short dialogue in which the author argues with an alter ego over why he has chosen to develop a given scenario in that particular year and what its significance might be. The period represents the life of a single man, Kensington, which Lukacs weaves in and out of the text and through which can be traced the leitmotif of the book: the decline of Anglo-American civilization and of the ideal of the gentleman. A history of manners and mores, a delightful - and poignantsuccession of sketches, the book brings the reader into the inner and often undeclared lives of individual men and women, at the same time placing them in the larger dramas of historical process in this century.
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Two editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.
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